Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting: multi-family soft-story retrofit program

Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting

In earthquake-prone regions like California, the need for strong infrastructure is a necessity. Soft-story buildings, common in urban areas, pose significant risks during seismic events due to their weak ground floors. This vulnerability highlights the importance of soft-story seismic retrofits, an essential process aimed at strengthening these structures and ensuring the safety of occupants and assets.


At Sturdy Builds, we understand the unique seismic risks faced by properties in California. That’s why we specialize in soft-story seismic retrofitting services tailored to the needs of buildings throughout the state. Our team of experts is dedicated to enhancing the resilience of soft-story structures, mitigating seismic hazards, and safeguarding communities against potential devastation.


Starting with a thorough assessment of each property, we develop customized soft-story seismic retrofits using advanced engineering techniques and state-of-the-art technologies. From design to construction, Sturdy Builds manages every aspect of the retrofitting process with precision and expertise.


Choose Sturdy Builds as your partner in soft-story seismic retrofitting and ensure the safety and stability of your California property. Reach out to us to learn more about our comprehensive retrofitting solutions and protect your building against seismic risks.

Soft Sturdy Builds: Story Seismic Retrofitting

What are Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits

Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits are structural enhancements implemented in buildings, primarily those with weak ground floors, to minimize the risk of collapse during earthquakes. This retrofitting involves reinforcing the lower stories of a structure, generally with the addition of steel braces, shear walls, or moment frames. By strengthening these vulnerable areas, the building becomes more resistant to seismic forces, ensuring the safety of occupants and reducing property damage.


In California, the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program requires property owners to retrofit buildings with specific soft-story characteristics to comply with seismic safety standards. This program aims to mitigate the risks associated with soft-story structures and enhance overall community resilience to earthquakes.


Through comprehensive retrofitting measures, buildings can withstand seismic events more effectively, protecting lives and property. Sturdy Builds offers expert Soft-Story Seismic Retrofit services to help property owners navigate compliance with these regulations and ensure the structural integrity of their buildings.

Why We Need Soft-Story Seismic Retrofits

Now that you know the basics of a soft-story seismic retrofit, it’s also helpful to understand its role and why we need it. Here’s why you need soft-story seismic retrofits:


  1. Vulnerability of Soft-Story Buildings:

Soft-story structures, characterized by open spaces at ground level, are particularly susceptible to collapse during earthquakes due to their weak ground floors.


  1. Mitigating Seismic Risks:

Soft-story seismic retrofits play a crucial role in strengthening these vulnerable buildings, minimizing the risk of collapse and reducing the potential for casualties and property damage during earthquakes.


  1. Ensuring Structural Integrity:

By reinforcing weak points in the building’s structure, such as the ground floor, retrofits enhance the overall stability and resilience of the building, ensuring its structural integrity even in the face of seismic events.


  1. Compliance with Regulations:

In regions prone to earthquakes like California, regulatory authorities often mandate soft-story retrofit programs to ensure buildings meet seismic safety standards and protect occupants and communities.


  1. Protecting Lives and Property:

Soft-story seismic retrofits not only safeguard the lives of building occupants but also help preserve property values and minimize the economic impact of earthquake-related damage on communities.


At Sturdy Builds, we recognize the major role of soft-story seismic retrofits in enhancing seismic resilience and community safety. Our expert retrofitting services are designed to fortify buildings against seismic risks and ensure the well-being of occupants and assets.

Understanding the Mandatory Soft Story Retrofit Program

In California, the mandatory soft-story retrofit program is a key initiative introduced in 2015, aimed at bolstering the seismic resilience of vulnerable structures, particularly soft-story buildings. These buildings, characterized by open spaces at ground level, face heightened risks during earthquakes due to their weak ground floors.


As per local government regulations, property owners are required to undergo retrofitting to strengthen their buildings and ensure the safety of occupants. The retrofit process follows guidelines outlined in publications like FEMA P-807 and 2018 IEBC.


FEMA P-807 (Seismic Evaluation and Retrofit of Multi-Unit Wood-Frame Buildings with Weak First Stories) and the 2018 International Existing Building Code (IEBC). These standards provide the framework for assessing and retrofitting soft-story buildings to meet seismic safety requirements.


A key aspect of the program is the multi-family soft-story retrofit program, which specifically targets multi-family residential buildings with soft-story configurations. Property owners must assess and retrofit their structures to comply with seismic safety regulations, with penalties for non-compliance.


At Sturdy Builds, we specialize in guiding property owners through the retrofitting process, ensuring compliance with program requirements and the structural integrity of their buildings. Our team is dedicated to enhancing the safety and resilience of soft-story structures across California.

Types of Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting Techniques California

Below are the various types of soft story seismic retrofitting techniques in California:


  1. Steel Moment Frames:

Steel moment frames are robust structural elements consisting of steel beams and columns strategically placed within buildings. These frames effectively reinforce weak points and provide additional lateral support to withstand seismic forces during earthquakes. By absorbing and dissipating energy, steel moment frames enhance the building’s overall resilience and minimize the risk of structural failure.


  1. Shear Walls:

Shear walls are essential components of seismic retrofitting, comprising vertical elements constructed from reinforced concrete or steel. These walls are strategically positioned within buildings to distribute lateral forces generated during earthquakes evenly. By absorbing and transferring seismic energy, shear walls enhance the building’s overall stability, reducing the risk of structural damage and collapse during seismic events.


  1. Foundation Bolting and Bracing:

Foundation bolting and bracing are crucial retrofitting techniques aimed at securing a building’s wooden frame to its foundation. Anchor bolts are used to fasten the wooden frame securely to the foundation, while diagonal bracing elements are added to reinforce the structure further. These measures prevent the building from sliding or shifting during seismic events, enhancing overall structural stability and minimizing the risk of foundation failure.


  1. Cantilever Columns:

Cantilever columns are vertical support elements installed externally on the building’s perimeter, typically at corners or open sides. These columns provide additional stiffness and support to the structure, improving overall structural integrity and resilience to seismic forces. By enhancing lateral stability and redistributing loads, cantilever columns help mitigate the risk of structural damage and collapse during earthquakes.

Soft Story Seismic Retrofitting Process at Sturdy Builds

At Sturdy Builds, we streamline the soft story seismic retrofitting process to ensure efficiency and compliance. Here’s how we work:



We begin with a comprehensive site evaluation and estimate, scheduling an inspection to assess the structure’s vulnerabilities. During this stage, we discuss retrofit options, evaluate their impact on the existing building, and provide cost estimates for engineering and construction.



Our team of engineers conducts a 360-degree analysis of the existing structure and develops detailed engineering drawings for implementation. These designs are tailored to enhance the building’s seismic resilience while adhering to regulatory requirements.



We take care of the permitting process, preparing all necessary drawings and documentation for submission to the building department. It includes coordinating preliminary meetings, formal submittals, and obtaining approval for the retrofit project.



Effective communication with tenants is essential throughout the retrofitting process. We handle all tenant communications, providing parking schedules, and construction notices, and addressing any concerns to ensure a satisfactory experience with minimal disruption to their daily lives.



With approvals in place, our construction team executes the retrofitting project with precision and professionalism. We retrofit the structure according to approved designs and obtain final sign-off from the city, ensuring full compliance with seismic safety standards.



As part of our comprehensive services, we assist building owners in navigating the Cost Recovery Program. We handle the paperwork required to recover up to 50% of retrofit costs from tenants, easing the financial burden of the retrofitting process.

Why Choose Sturdy Builds For Soft-Story Retrofitting


  1. Expertise in Soft-Story Retrofitting:

With years of specialized experience in soft-story retrofitting projects, our team at Sturdy Builds possesses the expertise and knowledge needed to tackle even the most complex retrofitting challenges.


  1. Safety-First Approach:

Safety is paramount in all our initiatives at Sturdy Builds. We adhere to strict safety protocols and standards throughout the retrofitting process to create a secure working environment for our team and ensure the safety of your property and occupants.


  1. Customer Satisfaction:

Your satisfaction is our top priority. We are dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and ensuring that every client is completely satisfied with the outcome of their retrofitting project.


  1. Compliance with Laws and Regulations:

Sturdy Builds is fully committed to upholding all relevant regulations and standards governing soft-story retrofitting. We ensure that your retrofit project meets all necessary safety codes and regulations, providing you with peace of mind.

Get in Touch With Us

Trust Sturdy Builds for a hassle-free soft-story retrofitting experience in California. Our team is dedicated to providing expertise, quality craftsmanship, and unmatched customer satisfaction to bring your retrofitting vision to life stress-free. With our professionalism and attention to detail, you can rely on us to handle your project from start to finish. Contact Sturdy Builds today to begin your soft-story retrofitting journey!

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